Chen Yuan armoured turret ship 

The Chen Yuan ('Striking from far away') was one of two battleships ordered from Germany by China, and fought in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95, eventually being captured by the Japanese.

The Chen Yuan was the sister ship of the Ting Yuen (see Ting Yuen for details of their design). She was laid down in March 1882, after the Ting Yuen had been launched), and was completed in August 1884. She was then held in Germany during the undeclared Sino-French War, and wasn't able to set sail until July 1885. While they were in Germany both ships were used in gunnery trials. The first, involving the Ting Yuen, went badly, and the guns damaged their own ship. A second set of trials, in April 1884, involved the Chen Yuen and were more successful.

Chen Yuan, along with Ting Yuen and Tsi Yuen, were finally allowed to set sail for China on 3 July 1885. They arrived at Taku in late October and joined the northern Peiyang Fleet.

Both battleships were heavily engaged at the naval battle of the Yalu River (17 September 1894), where they formed the centre of the Chinese line. One of the two battleships scored one 12in hit on the Japanese flagship Matsushima, inflicting heavy casualties, and their armoured citadel kept out the Japanese shells.

The damaged Chinese ships spent a month undergoing repairs at Port Arthur and then moved to Wei-Hei-Wei, to avoid the advancing Japanese. At the end of October the fleet began a final sortie. On 7 November, while returning from this sortie, the Chen Yuen ran aground. It took three weeks to re-float her. She wasn't operational again until January and didn't become seaworthy before the end of the war.

On the night of 4-5 February 1895, early in the siege of Wei-Hei-Wei, a Japanese torpedo boat managed to hit the Ting Yuen. She was beached but sank in shallow water, and Admiral Ting had to transfer his flag to the Chen Yuan. The wounded battleship was still able to fight, and on 9 February she scored a 12in hit on the Japanese cruiser Itsukushima. Unfortunately for the Chinese the shell failed to explode, a common problem during this war.

On the morning of 12 February, with surrender inevitable, Admiral Ting committed suicide in his cabin on the Chen Yuan. After the surrender was accepted by the Japanese the commanding officer of the Chen Yuen was one of many senior Chinese officers to follow him.

The Chen Yuen was taken over by the Japanese. She was towed to Port Arthur and repaired in the captured dry dock. She then joined the Japanese Imperial Navy, where she retained her original name but in Japanese form as the Chin-yen. She was the first battleship in the Japanese navy, but only played a limited role in the Russo-Japanese War. She became a training ship in 1910 and was scrapped in 1914.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed



4,500nm at 10kts

Armour – belt


 - deck


 - barbettes


 - shields


 - casemates


 - CT







Four 12in/25 Krupp BL guns in two turrets
Two 5.9in/35 Krupp BL guns
Six 37mm guns
Three 14in torpedo tubes

Crew complement


Laid down

March 1882


28 November 1882


Captured by Japanese

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (31 May 2013), Chen Yuan armoured turret ship  ,

Help - F.A.Q. - Contact Us - Search - Recent - About Us -  Subscribe in a reader - Join our Google Group - Cookies